In Yoga, Blurry Lines Easily Crossed

The hands-on teaching practices of some of yoga’s most celebrated gurus — and accusations of inappropriate touch that may have gone too far — raise questions about consent.

Comments: 212

  1. There is an obvious gap between touching for support and pure groping. The difference is probably impossible to discern until after the fact. Yoga coaches who trespass repeatedly should be barred from further coaching practice, the problem is of course in the proving of the misdeed. I suppose people talk, and such matters will come to the surface eventually, and consequences should materialize. But, if someone is totally averse to any touching by the coach, he or she should make this clear to the coach beforhand, - or find som other pastime.

  2. In yoga classes with high level instructors I have had to speak to the owner of the studio. During a two day yoga retreat in the Hamptons one well known guest instructor, a man in his 30's, picked the prettiest girl in the class to demonstrate the poses and ran his hands all over her while barking at the rest of us. Was he trading on his prestige to take advantage, perhaps so that is what predators do. When I discussed this with the gentleman whom ran the studio he looked at me as if I was the problem but I was not the only woman to notice what was going on. Not to mention the young woman doing the demonstration. She was visibly uncomfortable but some how did not know how to speak up.

  3. "Our reporter Katherine Rosman, an avid yogi herself,..." In India -- where the practice of yoga originated -- a yogi is a person who has attained a level of mastery not only of the physical aspects of the practice, but also has attained a certain spiritual realization through may years of diligent practice. A much better word to use to describe the reporter is yogin.

  4. @David, actually, yogi is inappropriate for females in the first place, the term is yogini. They are Sanskrit terms, not English terms, and Sanskrit is a gendered language. As for the distinction you are making, I have a good friend who practices yoga and is from India, and studied Sanskrit growing up and tried going to an ashram while in college there. She makes no such distinction, anyone who practices yoga can refer to themselves as a yogi or yogini. The term for a master is usually guru (if a teacher) or siddha (siddhi for women). The latter term means someone with special skills (in Sanskrit).

  5. Thank you for bringing attention to the Wellness Industrial Complex and it's problems. As a meditation teacher, I find the commodification, whitewashing, and spiritual bypassing of much of the industry to be heartbreaking. There is gold in these teachings! We should not ignore them because of the bad apples / predators. But we definitely need more transparency and accountability. So: thank you!

  6. This is an interesting but delicate issue. A practice that is growing fast because it does offer real benefits, also has elements that don't fit with today's western norms - and may indeed allow instances of abuse. What is especially delicate is how to separate true abuse from apparent abuse but differently intended and with unspoken consent. Let's not blow it out of proportion. In particular, let's not assume it is comparable to the problems the Catholic church is facing about child abuse. In this case, the participants are the best to judge.

  7. @PT There are thousands of pending lawsuits for sexual abuse in the Protestant and diverse churches.

  8. I started practicing in 2001. In a short time I was devoted to a regular practice at the most popular yoga studio in Oakland county. The practice itself was seductive a combination of a charismatic instructor and a spiritual and physical workout. Since then yoga has continued to evolve making wellness claims that are impossible. And yes the male instructor was hands on. Ironically the mostly female class clamored for his attentions. I now practice at home and get the same benefits without all the drama and woo woo promises. Yoga is good for the body and a nice time out for the mind but the rest is rubbish.

  9. Perhaps this explains why my (female) yoga instructor does minimal touching to coach or correct. I have asked her to use touch if needed to help me do poses the right way. She mostly uses voice but sometimes my brain cannot translate instruction to motion. And doing things correctly can be key to avoiding injury. I’ve never had a male instructor but if I did, and he crossed the line between coaching and fondling, I would be doing some correction of my own directed towards him.

  10. As much as we like to call Yoga a spiritual practice, for many it's another form of personal empowerment and sensual fulfillment. You can argue whether or not those are good things; but the actual spirit aspect is often overshadowed by a lot of well-dressed and toned ego indulgence—the very things it's ultimately designed to dissolve. As humans we all too frequently surrender our autonomy to an authority figure in the hopes of gaining some kind of insight or enlightenment. Though well-intentioned, this abdication of discernment and personal responsibility can too easily lead us to powerful, charismatic figures who are just on some kind of ego trip themselves. The path that leads to modern Yoga in America is strewn with sexual scandals and abuse stories: Bikram, John Friend, Jois, etc. etc. Likewise with meditation traditions: plenty of abuse if you look. It's not all that different than what's going on in politics right now. I practiced Yoga religiously for 15+ years, and worked with a lot of powerful teachers. It was empowering and revealing, and ultimately it was right to let it g. I'll always cherish dear friend who quotes Vivekenanda thusly: "It's wonderful to be born into a church, and it's terrible to die in one." Words to live by.

  11. @Mark Holmes Find out just where Vivekananda "said that." It is definitely not what he lived by. ... Except that - perhaps someone is alluding to being done with the eggshell of "church" and breaking out as a winged spirit in Moksha. Sri Swami Vivekanandaji Maharaj was the first yogi to bring yoga in 1893 to the USA. His first words, which caused an instant, standing, and uproarious ovation, were: "Brothers and Sisters of America:" He attributed all his yogic success to his beloved teacher, yes, his guru, Sri Ramakrishna. It was Oscar Wilde, who, when asked what he thought of American culture, answered thusly: "I think that it would be a good idea."

  12. It must be interesting to anthropologist to see the development of the US mind away from its roots in western society. And I don't mean the acceptance of yoga. That is common everywhere. I mean the emphasis of sexuality in its two extremes. The US is the home of the x-rated industry and of the sensitivity towards personal contact between sexes.

  13. I have practiced yoga for over ten years. All my teachers have asked me permission to touch my body to help with maintaining proper body alignment. I even had one teacher issue a wood coin to all - heads up meant that it was okay to touch; tails meant no... All of my teachers from various forms of yoga have been professional in their contact with me and their students.

  14. I taught yoga at a local state university for12 years. Yoga means to "yoke yourself to God". When it is taught in a competitive, hurried atmosphere, like a university setting, the more subtle, yet crucially important aspects can get lost. "I have to hurry up and get my yoga in." Couple that with the commodification of the practice, and the spiritual part is obfuscated. Yoga is best practiced alone, in quiet. If silence and meditation are not part of the practice, then you're not doing yoga. When we ask the question "who am I" the answer has nothing to do with money, status, race, class, power, etc...Touching a student is not necessary if a yoga teacher is really practiced with his/her voice and able to demonstrate accurately. Touching comes from impatience in yoga.

  15. @RCJCHC I agree with a lot of what you say but not "touching comes from impatience in yoga." There are physical adjustments that are extremely helpful that would not transmit only via voice. To use a fairly benign example, in savasana, when an instructor carefully adjusts your head to make sure the neck is not unnecessarily "working" and then gently pushes down on the front of your shoulders to remind those of us (most Westerners) that we don't have to hunch all the time, the pleasurable feeling of having all nonfunctional tension in your neck and shoulders released is deeply satisfying. This can't be done without touch.

  16. Yoga class isn’t the only place this is a concern. My children have taken several dance and martial arts classes over time. Some instructors are more hands-on than others. I seek out the latter. It isn’t always a question of sexual harassment. But it IS always about who controls access to one’s own body and what we’re teaching the kids (and adult students) about consent. I understand, going in to the class, that there is a baseline of implied consent. But often there is an instructor or student assistant who takes that implied consent and overruns students with it. Denial of consent can be treated as insubordination.

  17. All of my best and most sincere yoga instructors, throughout my decade-plus of practice, ask at the beginning of class if anyone is new to yoga. Then once everyone is in child's pose, so students can't see each other, will have people raise their hands if they have an injury and then again if they do NOT want to have adjustments, i.e. be touched. In addition to some other things (please don't assume that the entire class wants to spend half the time practicing inversions), these are teaching patterns that will bring me back. I usually choose adjustments, but it's offering the choice that's key. It's pretty simple, just like yoga.

  18. Ashtanga is a very small subset of the wider yoga community, also much more strict and traditional compared to what most Americans experience as yoga. The depth and discipline of the practice should not be confused with more westernized forms of yoga. Historically, Jois and his teacher performed adjustments that today would seem radical. This is in no way similar to the types of adjustments you experience in current yoga classes where there is always an opportunity for students to opt out of adjustments. Sensationalizing these experiences and insinuating that this is happening across the wider yoga community is flat out wrong.

  19. @Ali Kress Amen. Shame on NYT for presenting such an imbalanced view of yoga.

  20. I have never seen the extent of comodification of yoga, as it is practiced in America. Its an ancient tradition and doesn't come with the bells and whistles as it does here with all the different types of yoga that are practiced here which frankly no one in India has heard about. We were taught yoga in India, but no one touched us inappropriately as the article suggested. I am worried because yoga is given an esoteric and new agey vibe in the west, its benefits both physical and spiritual will be lost as a fad if its reputation suffers due to the commercialization of the practice , and perhaps some of the inappropriate ways it might be getting practiced, in the west.

  21. In Hinduism and more specifically, Vedanta, yoga is not primarily a physical practice. It is mental and spiritual, a disciplining of the mind that is related in the Bhagavad Gita: When, through the practice of yoga, the mind ceases its restless movements, and becomes still, the aspirant realizes the Atman, Atman being a kind of unity with others and the universe. Yoga in this country is indeed commodified; it's part of the wellness industry, and it is a bundle of culturally appropriated terms and ideas devoid of context. Students in yoga class routinely say "om" but have no idea what it means, and the same with "namaste." Feel-good, but meaningless. Of course, a rigorous mental practice is much harder to sell. You don't need mats or workout gear for meditation, though it is fast following in the yogalebrity path with meditation apps, bowls, and bells. The yogis who gave us the Vedas were forest sages who chanted the verse so that we could divine their wisdom two thousand years later. The texts were preserved by minds and expressed in breath. Breath and mind; that's it. We would do well to sit, study, think, and most of all, remember that.

  22. @Melanie True, but not always true. There are yoga teachers and communities out there who teach all 8 limbs of yoga. One must look for them and not assume that all yoga studios are equal.

  23. @Melanie Really underrated comment.

  24. I’ve been practicing yoga since 1997 and have never been touched in a way I would consider inappropriate. Of course, I avidly avoid celebrity yoga masters.

  25. I am looking forward to seeing this show. The Iyengar world has had its MeToo moment over the past few years, and I've done quite a bit of reading about Pattabhi Jois. The two styles of yoga, Ashtanga and Iyengar, are cousins, although Mssrs. Jois and Iyengar went their own directions after studying together with Krishnamacharya in Mysore. We've also seen the falls of Kripalu yogi Amrit Desai and Anusura rock star John Friend. There's something about power that triggers a sense of sexual entitlement for some men. I don't get it.

  26. @Liz Pagan There’s also something about power which triggers a sexual attraction of men for women. Beyond the fact that no one gets to touch anyone without permission let’s not lay that particular power dynamic solely at the feet of men.

  27. @Hugh CC She was talking about the men in her comment. Be a better listener.

  28. Whether a yogi or a doctor or whomever, if they touch you in a way that makes you uncomfortable then you have to speak up or remove yourself from that situation. In all but the most egregious cases it may be difficult to know what the toucher's true intent is, but the important thing is how it makes you feel. Take responsibility for yourself because nobody else will do it for you.

  29. @Pat So back away during the prostate exam?

  30. @Pat The neurosurgeon who saved my teen daughter's life following a devastating head injury didn't abuse her in any way, perhaps because nursing staff my husband and I were attentive and present in the ICU much of the time. However, two years later we read in the newspaper that he had been arrested for sexually abusing several female patients visiting in his office. One woman said that at first she hadn't been sure he was doing anything wrong, because she'd become so dependent on him, she couldn't allow herself to accept that his touching her was inappropriate, not until the day he dropped his pants. Doctors are not above reproach. They can be sick predators. Always have someone else present during any hands on treatments.

  31. Just wondering, how about Latin dancing, salsa, bachata etc? Is it also a sort of different dynamic? Latin dancing like salsa, as the writer might know, can get quite close. Bachata these days is even more so, and this has, if anything, seemingly made it even more popular in the Latin dance world. There’s a somewhat newer version of bachata, called “sensual bachata,” as opposed to the “original” Dominican bachata. Sensual bachata, as the word sensual implies, can and in fact is that, sensual. It emphasizes sensuality and sensual contact and turns and bends and motion between partners. It’s all about love and passion etc on the dance floor. and it has become really really popular around the world, it’s all but drowned out the original version, Dominican bachata. Its rooms and dance spots at dance festivals or around cities, including New York, are often quite packed with dancers, and it even has its own specialized festivals and events, and it’s professionals are stars. And, what’s also very interesting about it, from what I’ve seen, women absolutely love it to bits! It always intrigues me how much women in the Latin dance community seem to love it so much! Guys, too, love it, but it’s females who seem to really like it! As a guy I’ve often been nearly shocked at how much some dance partners have been willing to get close while dancing bachata, it’s me who often has to pump the brakes a bit! I am not complaining by any stretch! I just find it quite interesting!

  32. I tried yoga only once, and the yoga instructor demanded intimate personal details in front of everyone. I have been sexually assaulted too much not to understand what would happen next. I got up and left.

  33. I’ve been professionally teaching and practicing yoga, meditation and bodywork for over two decades as well as being a part of the psychedelic community. NEVER trust anyone who doesn’t talk and act like a regular person. Anyone playing up the role of Guide, Guru, Teacher with a capital T, Rinpoche, Yogi, Roshi, holder of rarefied knowledge, etc... should be held with an abundance of caution. Further, if you have a deep-seated need for approval, attention and acknowledgment or a desire to be good or pure then you are especially at risk to be the victim of predatory behavior. Lastly, if you ever feel creeped out it is never something that is wrong or deficient within you.

  34. @Ananda Exactly. This phobia has nothing to do specifically with a yoga studio. A person who has it has it everywhere. Such persons, and there are so many now, need to set their own boundaries. Indeed, Reiki is totally touch oriented, yoga is not. Vilifying yoga on this count helps no one.

  35. @Ananda Well said. Totally agree.

  36. @Ananda LOL. I just wrote pretty much what you did. Funny how, given time and experience, we come to the same conclusions.

  37. When I give consent to be touched in a yoga class, which I always have, I’m not giving consent to be touched inappropriately. The use of “consent cards” doesn’t stop abuse. After reading this article, I realize it might enable it.

  38. I refuse to watch these videos. Linear media like video is inefficient and stultifying. Reading is non-linear and edifying.

  39. @Mexico Mike “I refuse to watch these videos. Linear media like video is inefficient and stultifying. Reading is non-linear and edifying.” How is reading not linear unless you choose to jump around whatever you are reading. You can do that with film or video too. It’s called fast forward, rewind, have multiple video sources on one screen, and you can even pause it to take a break. Film and video images, and how they are utilized, can be much more powerful (notice how I say “can be” not “are”) than something that is read. As for “edifying” film or video can be quite instructive and intellectual. Watch NOVA, Closer to Truth, Frontline, Nature, American Experience, POV, America Reframed, Articulate, and Independent Lens to name a few on PBS. As for films, there are a plethora out there that are edifying. You just have to know what to look for and where to look.

  40. How are topics chosen? Nineteen episodes in and there hasn't been an episode about the state of the planet? Can we have coverage in The Weekly of the complicated issue of palm oil or the push toward extinction of orangutans or tigers?

  41. Or climate change, perchance?

  42. @Cindy My God is inappropriate touching in yoga studios really a big issue...an issue that deserves this kind of attention? I've taken yoga classes led by men and women. I've never witnessed anything but kindness, positivity, & professionalism. I don't need or want a discussion about consent. My presence in the class gives my instructors consent to make the appropriate adjustments. How else am I suppose to learn? This is an issue that has been manufactured by hyper-sensitive progressive fanatics who ruin everything they touch. Another reason they will NEVER gain any traction in this country.

  43. this episode makes me think of other articles such as opioid abuse hitting the suburbs hence becoming a disease that should be medically treated and not a crime as in less affluent areas.

  44. Sadly, no place is safe from preditors, especially when the preyed on are so vulnerable: be it church, school, the gym or a yoga studio. And more sadly, many times the preditor is shielded by their star struck admirers (and often former prey). I'm a cradle Catholic and share the community shame of the rampant abuse in the Church. Yoga became for me an alternate spiritual practice. The dirty secrets of the practice need to come to the light, even though it is painful to share in more community shame.

  45. A quality yoga teacher doesn't need to touch their students with anything other than their voice, their experience and their caring. Having taught 12 years, I know this is true. Pulling and pushing on a student doesn't "yoke them to God", which is the definition of "yoga". Teaching them about silence, stillness, limits, breath does. When a teacher touched me I always let them know it wasn't necessary. Speak up in class.

  46. @RCJCHC I had one actually looking a little too long at a pose where my crotch was pointing upwards. I stopped going to that class.

  47. @RCJCHC “ Teaching them about silence, stillness, limits, breath does” No, it doesn’t either. And it’s easy to day “speak up in class” but it doesn’t appreciate the dynamics. A better rule is “keep your hands off people unless you ask first and they explicitly consent to your touching them.”

  48. This is mostly true. However I have had minor hands on adjustments in class that completely altered how the pose felt. As a younger student it improved my understanding and awareness of alignment. It can be enlightening (for some). That said: obviously no one should be adjusted who doesn’t want to be touched. Everyone needs to feel comfortable and relaxed in yoga!

  49. i used to experience a lot of hands on adjustment while practicing yoga. it was needed and welcomed and made me better practitionet. also i learned proper habits and stands which made the whole practice much safer. nowadays, unfortunately, teachers do not want to touch because they are aftaid of lawsuits or gossip (which might get you fired and ruin your career as yoga instructor). And what i see now in a studios are students with unsafe, inproper postures not corrected by the teachers. this made me stop practicing yoga, tbh.

  50. @mq I hope they post my comment. I am in agreement with you and I bet we will be in the minority of the comments.

  51. @mq Ashtanga studios still use hands on adjustments.

  52. @mq agreed

  53. I hope this documentary covers Bikram Yoga. It could't get any worse than what their leader did/does.

  54. @Julie One day, Bikram the Fraud will perform a headstand that goes on just a bit too long. The coroner can then do as many adjustments as he or she feels comfortable doing.

  55. Oh please. How difficult is it to softly ask "May I adjust your pose?" No one need be touched without consent.

  56. @Donna V Better yet --- There are ways to ask or indicate consent when it is not in front of an entire class. Abuse victims might have a harder time with public response.

  57. Yoga, in America is taken beyond what it is, everything in America get to level, that creates its own problems, and the subject is Blamed, and not the doers. Yoga is Spiritual, and an exercise, the teacher suppose to instruct not touch anyone or hold anyone, your dress code should be to protect you body, and not dress as a sexist, or like you looking, for someone, and I see some place they drink beer and do yoga, the disrespect in America is to the blame on the individuals who does it and who indulge in it, don't blame the Yoga. Respect your self, and others. Ram Jodha NYC USA

  58. I'll make this simple. Touching during a regular session is nonsense. If it is in a learning situation where the student is learning poses and the teacher is correcting something, then - with verbal consent - it is probably fine. However, beyond that, don't give me no lines and keep your hands to yourself.

  59. I trained for many years as an adolescent to be a professional ballet dancer. It was common and expected to have ballet masters and mistresses poke, prod and pinch you to achieve the desired aesthetic. I remember thinking once how inappropriate it would be to have this happen in any other context but it was just accepted. In some cases these people were essentially celebrities, even Knights of the British Kingdom. I always remember one instance where I was stretching before class with my legs to each side in a straddle. Our ballet master, who had won the National Medal of Freedom in Cuba, came up behind me and told me to exhale before leaning with all his weight on my back. Im not sure Id ever been in such pain. Could I have complained? Perhaps. Would anything have been done. No way. Thats just the way he was taught and the way he taught. If you couldnt handle it, then being a professional ballet dancer wasnt for you. I can only imagine how much worse it could be to be a female dancer, with the competition so much stiffer and the likelihood of predatory behavior so much greater.

  60. I’ve taught for several years. There’s really no compelling reason for a teacher to touch fellow yogis. Students should be having their own experiences in their own bodies. With 7 billion people in the world, there is really no such thing as “proper alignment”. All bodies are different. Hands on adjustments are usually all about ego...

  61. Despite asking not to be touched at the start of my yoga class, the newbie instructor nonetheless gave me what I can only describe as a rude shove (eg an “adjustment”). She seemed morally offended that I wasn’t going “deep enough” into the pose. I never took another class at that studio - or any other. Haven’t missed it. I work out with well paid personal trainers who always ask before helping me stretch. Perhaps because yoga instructors are often poorly paid, this leads to power trips, because that’s all they’re getting from teaching.

  62. @Julie I beg to differ - yoga teachers are mostly well paid AND have experience. and most are NOT on power trips -that's "what they're getting from teaching"... I'm sorry you had a bad experience with an inexperienced teacher. But don't put blame the whole beautiful & unique practice of yoga and demean the ancient scriptures which are the basis of Yoga on one person. (it is NOT about lifting weights or using a personal trainer) A yoga practice is primarily a personal practice/a journey of developing your Inner Self & Awakened Consciousness which has spiritual and mental/physical benefits - NOT just training the BODY. what a shame that one episode turned you against yoga - which, unlike personal training is about Self-Realization & elevated Consciousness which we all need esp. now

  63. I did not watch the video but I read the article. I found it imbalanced. I wish they had interviewed yoga instructors who faithfully adhere to the intended ethics of yoga (yama and niyamas), the first of which is ahimsa - do no harm. These are the yoga teachers I have experienced time and again, mostly in NYC (Brooklyn and Manhattan), and across this nation, in Mexico, in Bali. I have never been touched inappropriately in a yoga class. I have been through three yoga teacher trainings and in every single one, the instruction is "ask before you touch" and there are countless details about how to lay your hands on someone's body appropriately. This article gives one side of the story - the sensationalist side - and does not present both sides of the story. Shame on you, NYTimes.

  64. @Kristen I completely agree on this. As a yoga instructor and student of the practice for over 20 years now, I find this blanket blaming and over the top sensationalism ruinous to a much beneficial and incredibly wise practice. Countless teachers have never EVER touched me inappropriately including Pattabhi Jois. So really get a grip people.

  65. @Kristen No one is saying that this egregious behavior occurs with every instructor. Do you write in about stories of murders or robberies, and insist that mention be made of the millions of people who DIDN'T murder anyone that day?

  66. Yoga, an exploration of mind, body, spirit is a personal, physical, emotional, and spiritual journey, for others, it is exercise and an opportunity to stretch. An excellent yoga teacher will at the beginning of class, say to listen to your own body, make any modifications you need, take child’s pose and rest as needed, and will use verbal cues, not touching to adjust you. In the West, we all get to follow our bliss in our practice, and I am grateful for the practice, my favorite pose, shavasanna, or corpse pose, at the end of class, where we lie on our backs and let it all go.

  67. I'm a male yogi who has been practicing yoga for almost 30 years now and want to be corrected in my positions. If done right, it makes you better and receive the benefits of the position. I've been groped by a female teachers and witnessed male teachers who consistently 'correct' the youngest, hottest, least clothed female yogis; never 'correcting' males. Like many American imports, it has been Americanized with high-end fashion and pumping hip-hop music (I doubt they do that in India). It's still fun and healthy.

  68. I took yoga for years with male and female teachers. The only time I was "touched" was to correct my position. Which was rare! The teacher would first demonstrate how the position should be and if I could not "get it", they moved me. If a teacher is rubbing, caressing, etc., that is NOT yoga teaching. So quit that class and find another!

  69. As a long-time practitioner of Ashtanga yoga, I witnessed first-hand Mr. Jois's appalling, insidious behavior. He had a racket and he knew it. He could basically grope attractive young women to his heart's content—in full view of numerous onlookers—and no one would say boo. He was "Guruji." He was above the vulgar attraction of mere flesh. He was spiritually pure. As a jaded, atheistic, cynical New Yorker, who loves yoga purely as a form of exercise, I did not buy this obvious nonsense He was a dirty old man feeling up naive girls. I brought up the issue of the man's flagrant abuse, and the apparent brainwashed willingness of his victims, with more than one of his notable disciples—names any Ashtangi would immediately recognize. Each time I was smacked down—more than once in public. Disgusted by this and countless other hypocricies in the world of yoga, I decided to practice on my own. I am thrilled this issue is finally coming to the fore. May there be no more "Gurujis." Wonderful yoga. Terrible man. I found this

  70. @APH Although I spent several weeks in Mysore, India, studying with Jois in the 90s, my perception and experience with him was entirely different. True, he typically put his body weight on practitioners, male and female, during the final asana of the practice, for the specific purpose of increasing the extension of various muscles. He moved from student to student, doing so in fairly neutral, matter of fact manner. I found him respectful and respected, a gentle grandfatherly man in his eighties. His English vocabulary was limited; his adjustments were invariably helpful. He taught adults -- all of whom were free to either express their objection or leave the class if they did not approve of his style. None of the 20 or so students in our class founded his behavior offensive in any way. He had been devoted to his wife for over 50 years. Was he perfect? No. But it makes me sad to think that his being maligned in this way. He was an extraordinarily good teacher.

  71. @loyal follower The issue here is consent. The issue here is boundaries. You are in no position to judge whether others felt violated. You also are in no position to KNOW what Jois was experiencing with his actions (I.E., impartial, "matter of fact."). You are only in a position to state what YOU did or did not experience or interpret as your experience of Jois. You write here: "He taught adults -- all of whom were free to either express their objection or leave the class if they did not approve of his style." No. It is just not that simple. The problem with this statement is that it ignores the context in which "gurus" operate, and the context of the conditioning of both women and men, as well as the pressures to conform. People are saying that they NOW, in retrospect, have reflected on the dynamic, and have sorted out their discomfort at the time, and that they see both their contribution and his. You write: "None of the 20 or so students in our class founded his behavior offensive in any way." I'm guessing you did not contact each of those 20 to ask them if, in retrospect or even at the time, they had any discomfort. You simply don't know this to be a true statement, unless you ARE them.

  72. If you don't want anyone's hands on you you shouldn't do yoga.

  73. @Michael Livingston’s get real- have you even ever taken a yoga class? most yoga classes are not doing a lot of "hands on you" instruction. so don't say you shouldn't do yoga. EVERYONE SHOULD DO YOGA- we're all adults here (well most of us anyway) so if you enjoy being in a group yoga studio for practice (instead of only practicing only on your own, which is ok too & maybe even preferable) but don't say you shouldn't do yoga - when you don't know what is involved. as many practitioners here have said, & I as a Yoga Therapist for many years believe, if you don't like something -(there are different degrees of touching for proper alignment BUT if you're not comfortable with ANY touching go elsewhere. it's complicated. the practice of Yoga is a personal journey so find the Path and Enjoy the ride!!

  74. Oh, that’s the answer? The implication here is that yoga is handsy and it’s all innocent, and women should stop being so sensitive. Did you read the article? It isn’t about people disliking being touched. It’s about sexual assault, and attitudes like yours that suggest any touching in yoga is to be expected.

  75. @Katvdbg there is NO implication from what I wrote that it's all innocent and about "sexual assault". You are mistaken= "attitude like yours suggests any touching in yoga is to be expected. Yes I did read the article. did YOU really read & understand what I wrote?? I'm a woman so obviously inappropriate "touching" is understandably off limits but an appropriate way of correcting with alignment adjustments is NOT sexual assault. A good yoga teacher practices Ahimsa -do no harm - they correct students so they are not injured & do not continue a practice with incorrect alignment=

  76. Adjustments are an integral part of Astanga Yoga. Alignment is taught through sense memory and I, for one, have greatly benefited from them. If you think your teacher is creepy, find another teacher. If adjustments make you feel uncomfortable, then find a practice where the teacher verbally explains every minute detail. Or watch a yoga streaming service online. It would be a great pity if this long-established facet of yoga is recast as something slimy and untoward.

  77. "Gurus" are famous for sex scandals. Now "Yoga Gurus" join the pantheon. This comes as no surprise to me. I have watched for 15 years as Americans have commercialized and "consumerized" yoga and meditation: yoga clothing, yoga jewelry, yoga mat wipes, yoga socks, meditation apps...the list goes on. The ancients who created these powerful healing modalities...are rolling over in their graves. More dangerous still is the way many people are using yoga and meditation for mind control or to subvert and subjugate their physical and emotional pain and unresolved life challenges. The purpose of yoga and meditation is to support you to see clearly what there is to address and resolve, where you are in pain, what there is to communicate...and then for you to be a mature adult and tend wisely and well to those issues. Instead, folks are using these healing practices to jump aboard the "woo-woo-train-to-airy-fairy-land-and-dysfunction-junction" and thus repress, suppress and ignore critical health, mental health, family, and relationship issues! We "Boomers," have failed to face our failings and flaws head-on and instead normalize more and more dysfunction. (Hence, our President). I am sometimes asked "What is the difference between a Guide and a Guru?" A Guide asks, "Where would you like to go and how may I assist you on your journey?" A Guru simply says, "Follow me." We've become a nation of "followers" and "allowers"...and now we even use meditation and yoga to do so.

  78. @Kelly Grace Smith some of what you are saying is true but how can you fault anyone who wants to further their mental and physical health? the US already suffers from high rates of obesity and lack of physical fitness, so let's all jump on the bandwagon. I remember my mother doing yoga in the early 60s. I started doing it 30 years ago and am so happy to say that in my mid-60s, i can stand on my head, jump, twirl, stretch and don't suffer from any neck, back or leg pain. Thanks all to yoga. I have no gurus, just guides.

  79. @acadiagal I think yoga and meditation are wonderful, supportive, healthy tools! I have been a practitioner of both for almost 20 years myself. What is not supportive is folks using meditation or yoga like alcohol or meds...as a way to avoid seeing, addressing, and working on the dysfunctional issues in their lives and relationships. Yoga and meditation are tools to help support you to enjoy a healthy, balanced, evolving life...not a way to avoid what's not working. And sometimes when vulnerable people come to yoga and meditation they are taken advantage of by "gurus" pursuing the love of power...rather than the power of love. Good for you for your pursuit of a healthier, happier...you!

  80. @acadiagal I'm glad you learned to do a headstand! So many teachers now do not include it in their teachings. One teacher told me I was not allowed to do a headstand. "We don't do that in this class." He was Iyengar trained. I'm 67 and have never hurt myself doing a headstand. I was taught properly.

  81. Yes, granted even as far back as the Beatles rejection of the Maharishi in the 1970's due to the guru's alleged inappropriate advances toward women during their ashram retreat together, yoga has had problems with an image as a free-wheeling license to get jiggy with members of the opposite sex. For myself though, I'm still not quite sure why anyone (man or woman) would feel that its alright to be touched in an inappropriate way during a yoga class, but when seeing their physical therapist or chiropractor for instance, it is not alright. I think that much of the problem relates, in fact, more to the long ingrained imbalance of power between men and women then it does to an unusual number of sleazy yoginis lurking around ones yoga mats. And that in the minds of everyone who practices or teaches yoga this is simply yet another area in society that needs to catch-up to the 'Woke' movement. Namaste.

  82. Can we just take an ujjayi breath here. I take yoga all the time. The instructor always asks if someone does not want to be adjusted prior to the class starting. This snowflake professionally triggered woke class is really starting to ruin things for the normals.

  83. At the beginning of class, the teacher would have us come into child's pose and ask if anyone didn't want to be adjusted, to put one hand on their back. That way, only the teacher could see who didn't want adjustments. At the beginning of sivasana (final relaxation pose), the teacher would ask us to put one hand on our belly if we didn't want an adjustment. Again, nobody else in the room besides the teacher could see who didn't want the adjustments. I thought these were excellent ideas.

  84. @Ashley There is a difference between a helpful, professional adjustment touch and a full on genital-related body-to-body contact or breast groping. Getting the former should be part of any excellent class (for those who don't dislike touch). The latter should be reserved for those in intimate relationships in private settings. The article here is not talking about the neutral, professional touch for deft and helpful adjustments. It's talking about the groping, the genital touching, the full-body involvement.

  85. @Ashley I think you meant Shava asana (corpse pose) not Sivasana. It means, seated like Shiva.

  86. @mich phil I think Ashley probably knows the difference. I'm sure there have been awful transgressions because there's always a jerk in any community but there are people who just don't want to be touched, no matter what. Yoga is a very touchy feely teaching, so if you don't want to be touched, just voice it. If you were touched inappropriately, REPORT IT! women have to stop being afraid of "getting someone in trouble."

  87. I have a 29 year yogi practice. The first 11 years of my practice were classic Astanga, six of those years with a teacher who studied uder P. Jois. We practiced first and second series daily except on new and full moons opting for meditation and rest on moon cycles. My teacher, a woman, did adjustments but very limited mostly for proper hip and or shoulder placement. With neither a man or woman did I ever see her place her hands in any inappropriate area of ones body. After she left NJ to travel to South American my practice became my own. The years of discipline from a daily Astanga practice prepared me to formulate my own practice and adjust my asanas as my body aged and I moved away from repetitive vinyasa to a more relaxed practice working on more elongation and breath as well as meditation. One day on a request I attended a local yoga class a friend asked me to critique. Yoga was now mainstream and the class was being offrred at a local health club. Well, the young woman teaching this class made more odd adjustments to the 30 or so people attending than I saw in six years with my experienced astanga teacher. When she went to adjust me in downward dog, I politely told her "hands off." Following the class I asked her background for teaching and how long had she been practicing She was very proud when she told me, "Six very long and difficult months."

  88. @Jay Amberg Lol. Those "six very long and difficult months" speaks to my falling out with 'contemporary' yoga after I went through instructor training myself. In short, I found the training somewhat (glaringly) lacking; and as the guy who had practiced for about 13 years prior to the training, being certified along with some who were close to that "level" of practice (most were 2-3 years), yeah, I saw some big issues with that. So I practice on my own. Ironically, I miss group yoga, though, because I do miss the energy that can be found in a class, as well as the camaraderie, but also, yes, the human contact. It is important to yoga, I believe, but yes (of course!), it must be consensual, and wholly appropriate. But touch is powerful when done thoughtfully.

  89. @DKM I call it McYoga. There are so many yoga teachers now and too many do vinyasa or flow yoga so that they don't have to teach you anything. It's just sloppy movements with no correction. There is a young teacher near me who only leads the class. There is no teaching involved. She is now doing teacher trainings!! I mostly practice alone too and also miss a good group experience.

  90. @Jay Amberg Unfortunately, this is the state of much of the yoga in American today. It's just "exercise"!

  91. Whether it is yoga or something, woman or man- please speak up if you are not comfortable. Indian culture does consider the guru as part of the holy quartet , infact we have a saying-"mata, pita, guru, daivam in that order. Simply put it means mother, father, guru and god. This does not preclude your responsibility to be honest and true to yourself . As a woman , i feel terrible for each of the affected individuals but by keeping quiet for so long they have "normalized" what would have potentially saved future victims. Be your own champion and never let someone else diminish your self-worth.

  92. @Tara, you are (indirectly) blaming the victims. Stop it. Did you read the accompanying article? The point is that the women were confused about the touching (and worse) at the time it occurred. The same thing happened to me, and I am an intelligent, strong woman who is not afraid to stand up to anyone. The whole structure of yoga practice is diminishing. Students are trained to be compliant. Now that I am well away from that world I can see it for what it is. It’s full of predators.

  93. @Tara thanks. You can tell a subject -- yoga -- has made the mainstream when big media start elaborating scandals. Fancy word: scandalmongering. Read between the lines. This is prudery. I stopped trusting NYT around the same time as NPR: articles superficially appear balanced but deep inside the writers and publishers have their own agenda. A student is LUCKY to have a skilled, knowledgeable, experienced teacher who is able and willing to make adjustments. The yoga ashtanga of Patanjali -- the real thing -- denotes that this is not a problem; it is MAYA, as false construct. Soon comes SHIVA, the deconstructor and Lord of Yoga, who through the teachings and practice brings the true student to a place of understanding and chittavrtti/ sattchitananda. If this article turns you on, you're part of the problem. If it turns you off, simply announce that you don't want to be touched. But don't be a passive-aggressive creep about it. That's not yoga. | Careful what you ask for.

  94. @Tara Stop deifying man regardless of where they come from or what they do. They are opportunists and have no qualms about it.

  95. If you're yoga instructor is humping you or grinding you, then you are in the wrong studio. You can't make this stuff up.

  96. @Brian AND that instructor needs to be reported and his (mostly) studio shut down. Otherwise, the powerful can continue their abuses.

  97. Keep yer paws off my Mula Bandha or I'm blasting you with a prana beam.

  98. Please stop being so sensitive. So what if an instructor touches you to reposition or whatever. Don't be so overly sensitive.

  99. @DRS I can't believe this comment has gotten 12 upticks. Do you really believe that the things described in this article are something it's possible to be "too sensitive about?" Women are being assaulted by someone in a position of power; someone they trust. Clearly people aren't sensitive enough about the issue yet.

  100. At first I also thought that people were being too sensitive and it’s only touch to reposition. But I’m a heterosexual man and I thought, what if a man was the instructor and touched me in a way or place that felt like it wasn’t just repositioning, but rather was taking advantage of being an instructor to do something I thought was sexual. I’d be very uncomfortable and might even give him a solid smack. I wouldn’t even want to see him doing that to another guy or woman. I’d feel bad for them and wonder when he was coming for me. Perhaps that’s how women feel when instructors do it to them.

  101. @DRS The image of the man (Jois?) putting his full body weight on a woman lying on her back didn't look like yoga to me. A well-placed knee would have straightened him out.

  102. Why does the NYT make us wait to watch the video on HULU. We hope to watch it when we see the new episode posted but it is not available on the HULU platform. :(

  103. I have been doing yoga 2x a wk for the last year and half and doing so at the Y, the classes are really too big for individual instruction and so adjustments don't happen when they should. I did a class in Denver Y were I was visiting, it was with Susan and she was excellent all around, she used a yoga block and would ask if she could make an adjustment. It was really thoughtful work around I thought.

  104. Yoga in its original form should be an individual quest for spiritual and physical freedom. It's not meant to be a quick-fix and the search has to come from within. Real attainment cannot be taught, but has to be realized from within. Once it was institutionalized - thanks to commercialism, the West has a unique ability of doing so - Yoga lost its mooring and became both corrupted and contaminated. Blurry lines will continue to be crossed.

  105. It saddens me to see so much victim blaming and dismissiveness in these comments. I'm a long time yoga-practitioner, and an "India trained" teacher. A few things: 1) just because you haven't experienced abuse, doesn't mean others haven't. Just because Jois never abused you, doesn't mean he didn't abuse others. 2) the reason teachers now ask if you want adjustments comes out of this history of abuse. It's not "traditional" and is a fairly new way of teaching. 3) as a teacher, I never know my students personal histories (unless they decide to share). I make no assumptions about how comfortable people are with touch. I'm trained, and train others, in trauma-informed yoga. Many people come to the physical practice of yoga for healing, and unexpected or unwanted touch, being asked to close eyes, and other practices that may be "traditional" in yoga can my harmful and feel dangerous to students. A good teacher respect their student's boundaries, experiences and needs. It's not hard to model adjustements, and to ask before touching. The yoga industry suffers from Orientalism, and worship of "tradition." There is no need to hold onto harmful practices. No gods, no masters, no gurus.

  106. this feels like an uninformed comment because i have yet to watch this episode (it hasn't been posted on either platform), but i do want to weigh in briefly. i empathize with anyone who has suffered sexual misconduct and abuse of power under a teacher or mentor. taking advantage of students (whether physically, psychologically, emotionally, or financially) is a blatant violation of most ethical codes, including that of yoga. i don't think this is a matter of "all and any touch" or "no touch at all," and that focusing on polarities is just a way to avoid the more difficult, knotty, nuanced aspects of this issue. i think what we have here is an opportunity for teachers to look closely at our own preferences, beliefs, motivations, and assumptions, and to get clear on how we are or are not compassionately supporting processes of inquiry and care for students. i also think it's an opportunity for us all to examine how we (mostly women, but also men) are socially conditioned to ignore our intuition and to accept things that feel wrong to us. yoga can actually help us develop critical thinking and refine our power of discernment; i believe it's important that teachers emphasize and actively encourage these capacities in order to further a collaborative and conversational culture rather than perpetuate a potentially authoritarian one.

  107. @mjp as a daily practitioner, my relationship to physical adjustments changes depending on the circumstance. i have never been touched in a sexually inappropriate way in a yoga class, but i have dealt with aggressive, annoying, and sometimes just plain pointless hands-on interventions. for example, i am quite flexible, which some teachers interpret as something to be exploited, i.e., pushing me further into a forward-fold, even when there's nowhere left to go, or encouraging me to do a posture to the nth degree, even though i am making a conscious decision not to go to the full extent of my range. so i've had experiences where it felt like the teacher is offering an adjustment or a cue less for my benefit and more because they want to assert themselves, or because they are focused on the textbook/aesthetic ideal of the posture and not the individual. i've also practiced with kind, respectful and discerning teachers who provide purposeful, clear adjustments—and still, i don't necessarily feel like being assisted by them in every class. these fluctuations in level of comfort/desire can happen even when you trust someone and their intentions. as a teacher, i try to never assume that a regular student will be comfortable with my touch today just because they were comfortable with my touch yesterday.

  108. Mastering the art of teaching yoga's physical poses without touching students requires many skills, including: precise verbal cuing; effective mirror-imaging techniques; robust mental focus; in-depth anatomy knowledge; variety of alignment assists that involve minimalistic or no touching; ability to engender an aura of confidence, compassion, and safety; and a calming, perhaps imaginative, even poetic, voiceover that blends oral instruction with pauses of silence. Wow, that's a lot to embody! But great teachers do just that. It is far easier, however, for a teacher to talk/chat as he/she walks around looking to 'adjust/touch' students than it is to muster up the energy required, class after class, to actually TEACH. Many instructors today, male and female, prefer to use, and perhaps were role-modeled in their trainings, a rather effortless walkabout approach, in which there are no boundaries. Call out a pose. Then, touch here. Tell your life story there. Call out another pose. Give a bit of instruction. Then, touch here. Maybe flirt. Then, walk over to adjust/touch that one there. In such classes, the aura may be one of theatrics not mindfulness, inappropriateness not ethical professionalism. And it's foder for abuse. IAYT requires its Certified Yoga Therapists (I am one) to pass an Ethics and Scope of Practice review and quiz. It's a move in the right direction.

  109. @Camille Kittrell This is one of the best comments that I have read here. I have done very little yoga in my lifetime. Due to old age and painful joints it often hurts more than it helps. But my best teacher-who left the state to work elsewhere -was wonderful with the narrative part of the practice. She was able to help us all into a mindful and conscientious level of effort. She demonstrated everything slowly and carefully and was quite clear about how body parts should be positioned. She would model modifications for those who needed them. During the last, resting part of the session she would come around with oil for your forehead which you were given the opportunity to decline. I hate to think of so many good teachers being looked at askance because of the few. I've never been around any advanced practitioners for obvious reasons. Maybe it is very different at that level .

  110. I was in studio as student for 20 years. I do not recall any male instructor doing anything physically inappropriate to a female student. Perhaps holding a hand higher in triangle pose which does involve the sense of touch. Students were very loath to sit even close to one another in our culture. It was Iyengar Yoga which has a code of conduct and strict teacher instruction certification. I am sorry to read that some teachers violated the unwritten code that applies to any legitimate teacher. A student should never put up with groping- find another teacher or another class. Now I do it on my own. But I gained much value from intelligent committed gurus.

  111. Of course one should always follow their intuition, and if someone crosses a line, let them know, leave or do what is appropriate. Looking more deeply at the topic, Yoga is any practice that over time effectively unites you with that level of life that ties all life together. Many practices in the west are at best secular versions of the ancient Vedic teachings of India. Most are devoid of the deeper Vedic knowledge. The word Veda means knowledge, ultimately the highest knowledge a human can know. It refers to that level of consciousness at the junction point of the Absolute phase & Relative phase of the ultimate Principle or Reality (Brahman in Sanskrit). The enlightened seers or Rishis of old heard with intuition the silent sounds or vibrations eternally generated by the Veda phase of consciousness, and those sounds were (and are) what we call Sanskrit verses today. These were passed down orally for centuries and ultimately written down as the four classical Vedas, and these 4 and their teachings are further elaborated on in the Upanishads, Puranas, Bhagavad Gita and other Vedic writings. Nothing wrong with most basic forms of Hatha yoga (physical poses) that are common today. They can help a person become healthier and more integrated. But one can go much deeper, with other forms of Vedic meditation if one is inclined to investigate. The Yoga Vasistha is a great read for those who really wanting to delve in at a deep level. Best to everyone on their journey.

  112. I wish my yoga instructors would do more hands-on adjustments since I know my form still needs work in many poses, especially as I try to get back into practice. It was definitely more common just a few years ago. The growing fear of basic human contact is a harbinger of bad things to come society-wide.

  113. @Andy Childhood abuse is much more prevalent than most people realize. That can leave a permanent discomfort with being touched. It's quite understandable.

  114. @Andy - You are a man, no? I don't think you quite understand the vulnerability that women have in relation to bodily touch.

  115. @Andy I really have to add that your attitude towards people who dislike being touched is at best unsympathetic. I fear for the people in your life, especially your children, with this attitude. And I'm quite surprised and disheartened that 62 people agree with you.

  116. Yoga is a mirror that reveals oneself. It's a discipline that allows us to mentally and physically live in ease moment to moment. Achievement of such ease is an internal progressive process of learning how to handle stress, the fruit of applying the mind to our physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. All aspects of this process, including what may be considered inappropriate touching, are content for progress. The more that is revealed about oneself, the closer we approach our common universality, the essence of treating others as we would be treated. We are guided by the revelations of self we all engage daily. I'm retired now after 35 years as a chiropractic physician and two decades of teaching yoga privately in practice and publicly.

  117. A very different view of Astanga Yoga with P. Jois: Although I spent several weeks in Mysore, India, studying with P. Jois in the 90s, my perception and experience with him was entirely different. True, he typically put his body weight on practitioners, male and female, during the final asana of the practice, for the specific purpose of increasing the extension of various muscles. He moved from student to student, doing so in fairly neutral, matter of fact manner. I found him respectful and respected, a gentle grandfatherly man in his eighties. His English vocabulary was limited; his adjustments were invariably helpful. He taught adults -- all of whom were free to either express their objection or leave the class if they did not approve of his style. None of the 20 or so students in our class founded his behavior offensive in any way. He had been devoted to his wife for over 50 years. Was he perfect? No. But it makes me sad to think that his being maligned in this way. He was an extraordinarily good teacher.

  118. @loyal follower This comment reflects the attitude that a serious student brings to yoga class. Thank you.

  119. @loyal follower a number of Jois’ victims have gone public with their accounts well before this article was published. This is not news. Listen to Karen Rain, Jubilee Cooke, Anneke Leucas and others. Your experience was not everyone’s experience. Many Ashtangis, some of who are very high profile teachers, have witnessed and denounced this behavior even though they did not personally experience it. To say that this did not happen, to say that everyone’s experience was just like your own, is gaslighting and this incredibly harmful.

  120. @KAMS As a general principle, it would be helpful if individuals spoke from their own direct experience. Since I did not claim to speak for everyone, my statements do not deserve to dismissed as "gaslighting, incredibly harmful," etc. Sorry....but my experience, and that of my fellow students, simply does not reflect what your claims suggest.

  121. BKS Iyengar introduced yoga to to most of the world, including "the west." I have never heard of Jois. The Iyengar system uses props so that one can hold positions for a long time to get the maximum benefit, even if one cannot do the full classical pose. Yes, in this style of class I've had many adjustments. Thank God none were inappropriate. And none were from a "yogalebrity." I feel terrible for anyone who has had a negative experience and been violated. Power corrupts. If one's teacher is more concerned with followers, money, and notoriety as opposed to facilitating asana practice, that is something to pay attention to, and avoid.

  122. @LJIS BKS Iyengar, Indra Devi (a Latvian Eugenie Peterson) and Pattabi Jois were the accomplished students of T. Krishnamacharya. The original legacy was continued by the son and grandson of Krishnamacharya at the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram https://www.kym.org/ which is based in Chennai. BKS was Krishnamacharya's younger brother-in-law who established his school in Pune, Jois did so in Mysore and Indra Devi in Hollywood.

  123. @VC Right on.

  124. There are no doubt many styles of yoga and I would caution people to make assumptions about one type of yoga and consider it the same for all other forms. When I was taking yoga classes regularly, our experienced teacher rarely corrected our form physically or verbally except when it was clearly/ potentially dangerous. I once asked her why -- having taken a variety of sports classes like swimming and tennis where form was important -- and she said that her philosophy about yoga was less about strict bodily alignment and just as much a spiritual practice. There were also no mirrors in her studio compared to other places. She wanted us to concentrate on what we were doing rather than how we looked. She did note other teachers and styles are emphasize the physical aspects more.

  125. I’m an agnostic/secularist who also practices yoga for health reasons in that a well executed stretching regime has greatly improved my overall physical well being. It also facilitates greater levels a relaxation. And probably because I’m not drawn into it’s spirituality, I’ve never had a problem with subtly setting strict boundaries on my relationships with the yoga teachers. And I’m very particular about the studios where I go. And the ones I patronize have highly professional teachers who ask in advance if they can touch and, yes, I do allow several of them to do so either for slight adjustments or for the occasional essential oils on forehead or pressure points on hands. As with everything, especially when it comes into the blurry areas of spirituality or religion, one must be ever vigilant to not allowing oneself to be manipulated into uncomfortable situations. If you are ever made to feel uncomfortable, leave that studio and find another. With the explosion of yoga’s popularity, there are many to choose from.

  126. I understand the dilemma. As a ballet instructor, physical corrections can make huge difference in a dancer’s success, whereas trying to explain the adjustment is much less effective. Yoga class is no different.

  127. I took a yoga teacher-training series and was one of 2 guys among 30 or so women. I could often sense the apprehension of women classmates when we would "partner up." Given what a minefield the "adjustments" issue was, I decided that as a teacher, I could do best by standing near a student and physically demonstrating with my own body, the adjustment I believed would help and then further correcting and teaching verbally. It wasn't perfect, but I believe it was the best way I could serve.

  128. Again, ultra-liberal "enlightees" confounding themselves over whether a thousands year old practice is insensitive or invasive. If you participate in yoga in a group setting, I imagine there is an implicit consent to be occasionally touched by instructors or others participating for the purposes training, teaching, or helping others to enhance the experience. If you do not wish to be touched in any form, either make it explicitly known or do not participate in group yoga. As for creepy instructors, either tell them off, change studios, or if you were so offended, call the police.

  129. It is NOT thousands of years old. "Yoga," as we know it today, was developed in the 19th century as a mixture of calisthenic exercises introduced by the British and a smattering of traditional Hindu practices. The notion that it is an ancient Indian practice is a marketing package dreamed up by those who introduced it to the West back in the early 20th century. What's more, hands on "adjustments" are a relatively recent development and were virtually unheard of until the last two decades. Indian culture is extremely touch-phobic and such hands-on instruction was limited to only two or three traditions of yoga practice. In its current form, it is largely a Western phenomenon.

  130. @APH True, Patanjali was born in West Yorkshire in 1853.

  131. @APH I beg to differ with some of your statements. Will you now say that the "Yoga" itself was a British invention and incorporated into the Hindu tradition? The term "yoga" (although used in a different context) is at least several thousand years old and originated from India. With respect to postures, the first prominent reference to physical pose ("asana") comes from Patanjali's Yoga Sutras more than 1700 years ago. Later on, from around 10th and 11th century onward (Goraksha Shataka, Shiva Samhita, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, etc.) new body postures have been continually described.

  132. No way would I practice yoga with a teacher. As a teen, I briefly lived in an ashram in Boulder, CO. Sexual control and abuse by the ashram’s well-known yogi and his minions was the norm. There was no #metoo consciousness then, but even as a young person I recognized it as coercive - and creepy! I am lucky I got out unscathed. My experience, shared by others I knew in other yoga disciplines, left me with a cynical and cautious attitude about yoga practice. I think that famous yogis can contribute to a culture in the yoga “community” that is money and power centric. I do not see yoga as some path to enlightenment - just another form of exercise that I would rather use a DVD or a book to practice.

  133. @Theo Part of yoga (the meditative part) are very old, but the physical aspect we know isn't. Pher Ling in Sweden invented a flowing calisthenics* in late 1700/early 1800. His techniques, along with exercises developed in Germany, were picked up by the British Army Eventually the techniques were taken to India by the army where they influenced a generation of Indians. Along with world wide health movements (such as the America book Building the Body Beautiful), calisthenics, et al were taken, adapted, and modified by the teachers/yogis in the 1920's and 30's into the system of yoga we know today. It was then exported back to Europe and America. Very interesting story. *he also invented Swedish massage to help people recover from calisthenics

  134. @sjs Yoga´s physical aspects are very old. Very, very old. As old as Yoga as a practice.

  135. @sjs Sure, the fact that Indians practiced Yoga before all the calisthenics can just be wished away. Sad when people believe that anything that is useful couldn't have originated in the east. British Army teaching Indian mystics Yoga is the funniest joke I have heard in a while.

  136. The several yoga studios I have attended seem to be either fronts or victims of extortion. This implies they will often employ the creepy who may use unwanted and inappropriate touching to get rid of people they do not want around without being obvious to everyone else. This has happened to me several times. There are lots of ways to exercise or meditate that do not have this unfortunate dynamic. Yoga is terrific, but yoga studios tend to be the opposite.

  137. I've never had a problem with an instructor touching me inappropriately. I do dislike partner yoga where I have to pair up with another person and be responsible for guiding them and vice versa. Really dislike that.

  138. I'd rather be a yogi than an alter boy...all things considered. At least you can say no and find another studio, a safe place to practice mindfulness.

  139. The headline should have been "The dark side of yoga teachers/classes". Traditionally, women were advised to seek spiritual initiation from an older female or father, older brother or husband. Same for yoga. Now it has been monetized tremendously. Bad behavior follows the money.

  140. @Jana bad behavior follows "seeking spiritual initiation."

  141. I spent several summers working at a New Age, Holistic summer camp for adults in Upstate NY. Yoga, in all its modalities, is offered thru out the spring thru fall season. Most are taught by well meaning, and often newer instructors. In reality, they just make a lot of touch mistakes. I sat-in on their classes or had freebie one-on-one sessions, and lets say...people make mistakes. Often out of simply wanting to help a struggling student, or to prevent injury. Body movement instruction of any kind is ripe for injury for the novices and the over-eager students, which can result in lawsuits. BUT - then there's the alleged Masters, the Pro's, mostly male, who, to be nice, are way too full of themselves. Plus, many of them are simply predators. Its that simple. Teaching yoga, body movement of all types, often attracts predatory males. Its rampant among body centric "professions". Be it yoga, massage therapy, and very much among personal trainers at the local gyms. But male yogi's get that extra special perk; followers. Very dedicated students, who often fall in love with their yogi. Even from the back of the class. Predators sniff that out like raccoons to a dumpster. I've seen it in action, even intervened, or tried on many occasions, but its not easy. Too often the student, female, might be suffering from pain (caused by emotional, physical abuses) thinks the relief is caused by the teacher, not their own work. And should the teacher be attentive. Wholly toxic!

  142. The lack of compassion and balance in these comments is sad. It does not have to be either or. We can appreciate yoga and still realize there are some men in positions of power doing inappropriate things. Comments like “ snowflakes, overly-sensitive, uptight, you don’t understand the culture, if you don’t want to be touched don’t do yoga and this will ruin the culture of yoga” only serve to keep women quiet.

  143. I practice hatha yoga at home using youtube videos as guides. I recommend home practice if you aren't comfortable with crowded classes or handsy instructors, and you aren't doing headstands and complicated poses. Local studios don't even offer hatha classes so in-studio yoga is not an option for me. The yoga class shown in the picture with too many people and minimal space between the mats seems stress inducing.

  144. my girlfriend and I have noticed a particular female instructor get very hands on with some of the class participants. She actually laid down on a young lady in one class (her back to students back). Why did she get away with it? Because she's female we figure. No way a guy does something like that.

  145. A yoga studio is a place where you put your body into positions that can be very compromising to your body if done incorrectly. I tend to favor teachers who are able to identify these situations and help when they see something. There are also a lot of exercises that require a partner, usually a stranger, to assist you by pulling or holding some body part, and the teacher needs to demonstrate things. Yes it is a place of trust where things happen that could be weird out of context but so is your proctologist’s office if you think about it. The NYT has a history of articles that single out yoga as being dangerous or creepy and while they are no doubt fun for non-yogis to read they aren’t really fair. I’m sorry to hear that about Jois, I always thought Guruji was one of the good ones.

  146. Part of yoga (the meditative part) are very old, but the physical aspect we know isn't. Pher Ling in Sweden invented a flowing calisthenics* in late 1700/early 1800. His techniques, along with exercises developed in Germany, were picked up by the British Army. Eventually the techniques were taken to India by the army where they influenced a generation of Indians. Along with world wide health movements (such as the America book Building the Body Beautiful), calisthenics, et al were taken, adapted, and modified by the teachers/yogis in the 1920's and 30's into the system of yoga we know today. It was then exported back to Europe and America. Very interesting story. *he also invented Swedish massage to help people recover from calisthenics

  147. The “yoga is dead” podcast presents an eye-opening view on this bit of cultural appropriation.

  148. I trained for 5 years under a graduate of 12 years under B.K.S. Iyengar. Iyengar uses props to achieve better form. During those 5 years, beginner/basic asana instruction moved to intermediate ability after 2 years. My instructor would assist us by physical touch with degrees of weight/pressure to the body so we could experience/achieve improved form. For example, in order to shift your weight back towards your feet in 'downward facing dog' (Adho Mukha Shvanasana) with the goal of equal weight on hands and feet, a belt/strap is run under the hips and then lightly pulled behind you after we'd held that pose for a minute or so. The release/relaxation feeling was nice. Advanced students can hold an asana for 15 minutes. He would ask to assist anyone before touching and a student feeling uncomfortable could refuse. Certainly an unscrupulous yoga instructor can have unacceptable touching while assisting a student in proper form. Those instructors should be harshly reprimanded and possibly banished from leading classes. Are these unethical instructors in the majority, I hope not. I've been practicing for 15 years on my own since my instructor moved from USA's East Coast to the West Coast and other international locations. His instruction was very helpful and couldn't be learned from books or watching videos. I've not had another teacher with his asana and pranayama knowledge. Learning and regularly practicing any amount of yoga is good for everyone. Namaste.

  149. I tried yoga several times, its never appealed to me. I wanted the class over with as fast as possable. I worked with many physical therapists and massage therapists - experts on the human body's muscles system - and its striking is how luke warm they are about yoga. Most know the major poses, but not one of them has a regular practice. Hot yoga is really awful, I sat out in the snow for 20 minutes to cool off. People ski and ice climb in very cold weather; those sports require the same strength and flexibility. But to mention "snow yoga" in cool weather, I got strange looks. Its not for me.

  150. @H Smith Thanks for sharing, H Smith. What a fascinating life you lead. The rest of us can only imagine. Thanks again.

  151. If you know how he does his classes, and you continue to attend them, then you are consenting. If these are such large classes, it seems unlikely that hands-on can happen to any one person in the class by total surprise. It certainly can't happen more than once. If you don't like it, then don't do it. I wouldn't, nor would I encourage my wife or daughter to do it. However, my objection would not be "consent." It would be "bad choice." When you know, and you do it anyway, an adult must own what happens.

  152. I have been a Kripalu Yoga teacher. In actuality there is no need to physically touch your student as demonstration and vocal cues can do the job. yoga is about awareness of your state of mind and body. Touching can bring your student out of that place. In addition to obtain benefit from Yoga you do not need to obtain a 'perfect' position or state as awareness is more important than any sense of perfection. We are all different in our level of practice and who we are and noticing those differences and accepting them is really crucial. One note, Amrit Desai, the founder of Kripalu Yoga was rightly kicked out of his own Ashram for inappropriate sexual contacts But Kripalu yoga survived because it is not about one person but the practice itself which honors the student and does not allow dishonoring the student. through inappropriate touching.

  153. @just Robert Thanks for this comment It invites in the deeper discussion on yogasana: Awareness of your mind and body and not a perfect pose. dare I add, not an extreme pose pushing you to your limits of flexibility or endurance... Inviting in the secondary discussion that Westerners grapple with for many reasons (one I would claim being a lack of knowledge on the history of India as a British colony and the way that shaped Yoga.) Is Yogasana just exercise or is it spirituality? Is Yogasana a drop back wheel or is it ahimsa? Can it be both? Thank you for your beautiful note about the Kripalu community repaired and recentered their practice. How we repair what is broken is everything.

  154. @just Robert As stated in the Yoga Sutras compiled in approx. 400 CE by Patanjali, the primary objective of yoga (union) is to calm the fluctuations of the soma and philosophically live the premises of the Yamas and Niyamas, the universal and personal principles (the golden rule). Yoga is something we become not something we do. Over thousands of years there are multiple iterations of yoga, ancient and contemporary some secular other more religious. It has a very rich, complex and sometimes mysterious history worthy of a life time study. It is part of ancient Ayurvedic medicine. In the end whatever aspect of the practice you embrace it is a success if you are more loving. From someone involved in the yoga world for the past 50 years ( long before yoga mats etc were even a figment of someone's imagination) as student and teacher for 30 years: Invest in yourself and engage a private teacher for a few sessions, then go home create a small place to devote your endeavor, a few good books on the topic and get to work on your own. Create your own yoga, not someone else's. This is a solitary endeavor where consistency and quality over quantity take precedence; in other words 15 minutes consistently is better than an hour here and there. Remember the real work begins when you leave the mat.

  155. Thank you for both of these thoughtful comments. The yoga based on the ancient teachings of Putanjuli is indeed deep and powerful as it involves four or five limbs of which hatha is only one and perhaps an entry level practice for some. But here in the west we like to reduce things to areas we think we understand. It is a sad statement when something as deep as this practice is misunderstood because of fear or the misbehavior of some so called leaders.

  156. I practice regularly at CorePower Yoga, which has studios all over the United States. No matter which studio I’ve visited in my home city or on my travels, instructors at CPY always announce at the start of class that they may offer physical touch and adjustments, and ask students, usually while our eyes are closed for a few moments, to raise a hand if we would prefer not to be touched. It’s incredibly simple and upfront, and I can’t imagine why any studio anywhere wouldn’t follow this same procedure.

  157. Many years ago I lived in Bombay (Mumbai) and frequently traveled to Pune where, for a time, Sri Rajneesh had a center. It catered primarily to Europeans and Americans who could pay. They used to engage in "pillow fights" and other physical contact that sometimes became violent. Rajneesh and his lieutenant Sheila Anand decamped to eastern Oregon thanks to an incautious U.S. consular official. Anyway, he and his ilk practiced a kind of yoga and other so-called Indian physical exercises in a cult-like environment. It was all about money. I have been practicing yoga for several years since bypass surgery and it has been wonderful. There is no physical contact. I am one of a few men in a class mostly of women. Our teacher is a woman and she is very knowledgeable and helpful. She demonstrates and then lets us do our best to imitate the positions and movements. Each of us is competing against herself/himself and our work-out environment is not competitive. Over time, I have gradually been able to assume ever more demanding positions and movements - Vinyasa flow. I find the practice of yoga to be physically and mentally healthy and exhilarating. I have no desire to touch another person. We maintain a fair distance from one another so that we can feel free to move. This gives us a sense of spaciousness that is liberating. Each of us must engage in the physical movements and find his or her own spiritual or mental well-being.

  158. Yoga is very popular for a number of beneficial health reasons. I do not practice yoga but I would suggest to those who wish to participate in a yoga class or session, discuss boundaries with an instructor prior to joining the class. If the instructor is not in agreement, find another class.

  159. I wish some yoga teachers would respond to this article. The majority of responses seem to be from people who have had bad experiences. I've never felt uncomfortable by any adjustment done by a yoga teacher or the assistant. Adjustments are part of a yoga class and are welcomed. Your body is placed in the correct alignment which is sometimes difficult to achieve without a little help. Before class, the teachers at my studio tell the students that if they don't want an adjustment to just wave them off when they come by.

  160. Another basic form of exercise plundered and packaged into group settings to create a giant billion dollar industry. I use some of the basic yoga movements because they really help with my running, swimming and weight lifting. But I do these on my own at home or in the gym. I don’t need to use them for a social get together.

  161. Over the years, I attended yoga sessions with other people thinking the sessions would be a good way to meet other yoga practitioners, but the sessions seemed more like competitions and show boating than community building. But to each her or his own. Now I do yoga alone at home in a quiet room and look forward to it every day.

  162. I'll never forget attempting a yoga class on the Upper West Side in Manhattan and definitely getting groped by the male instructor. I not only never returned to that class, but neither did I return to any yoga class. I was a figure skater and had my positions adjusted all the time in that sport: believe women when they report abuse.

  163. As someone who has practiced Ashtanga and knows something about the system , The NY Times piece has a whiff of the She Said bias. I can’t help but feel this coverage is incomplete. The entire Ashtanga system is based on powerful physical adjustments. I have been to studios where they gently adjust you or give you a verbal queue and I have been to studios where you get full on intense adjustments. The former feels watered down and Americanized. The latter turbocharges your practice to the next level and is authentic. Jois was not a perfect man but this piece fails to mention that he was born a Brahman in 1915 pre-modern India. He was a Sanskrit and Indian philosophy scholar in a way no westerners can come close to. He opened his doors to teach yoga to westerners and women at a time in india when that may have seemed inappropriate. I just worry we are going in the direction of so much #metoo political correctness that all this no touching yoga culture will turn the yoga practice into something not even worth doing .

  164. “Turbocharged” and yoga: two words I never thought I would see in the same sentence. As a yoga teacher who offers adjustments, this is a mentality that I find sad and strangely divorced from the spirit of yoga as I understand it. It also relates to the surge in power yoga and the relative disappearance of slow flow and gentle yoga.

  165. How Yoga, the ancient practice in India, became so commercialized and sexualized in the West is a mystery. Another form of cultural appropriation? A whole new industry has grown around it, including supplying the must-have status accoutrement, the "yoga mat"! In India, yogis generally used to practice yoga solo and away from the crowds and in solitude to seek true spiritual awakening. It never was an in-thing of group exercise like "power-yoga." What an oxymoron! The sights and smells of co-ed body grinding, bending and flexing is far from the path to Nirvana. It's perhaps the latest incarnation of an old fashioned "meat market."

  166. @Jay Cultural appropriation is the term du jour that people use in order to shame others and feel superior themselves. Cultural appropriation is in the eye and interpretation of the beholders, who doe't realize that they themselves are a mosaic of other cultures. No one lives in a vacuum or isolation. People have shared their cultures and adopted aspects of other cultures for thousands of years. It's how things change and evolve. The English language is not a root language; it comes from other languages. Would you call that cultural appropriation? Food from all over the world is in my city. I like to cook some of that food myself. Is that cultural appropriation? Music from all over the world is in my city, and there are musicians who use that music in their own compositions. Is that cultural appropriation? If you learn and speak another language other than that of your country, is that cultural appropriation? If I practice tai chi and I'm not Chinese, is that cultural appropriation? "Cultural appropriation" is a way to stifle freedom of expression, something that we used to value.

  167. @Jay And don't forget you must be dressed in the "correct" yoga outfit as well. God help anyone who shows up in some old shorts. I agree with you completely. Yoga has become to enlightenment what mega-churches have become to religion.

  168. @Jay Oh come on. Whatever valid critiques of the westernization of yoga exist (and those valid critiques are legion), the yoga mat as a “status symbol” is not one of them. Have you ever actually talked to a person who does yoga, seen a yoga mat, or gone to a yoga class?

  169. No. Stop, Don't do that, These are words that put an end to any unwanted touching by the vast majority of people, especially in a public or group setting. Americans, especially Americans, have been conditioned to avoid touching, avoid anybody's contact whether it is by eyes or hands. So now we have a deceased person who is being outed for perceived sexual advances. He is like others, not alive to defend himself but the "victims" are coming out of the woodwork. All of them could have been averted by the words No. Stop that, This article now, by raising this dead man, puts yoga instructors on notice, don't use your hands in teaching.

  170. People should speak up. Yes, the instructor should ask, and in my experience over 20 odd years as a practitioner, it was only the instructor with whom I was very familiar that did not ask me anymore. That being said, I have seen others who touch (appropriately) without asking. But it also does depend on the individual. E.g., my wife simply does not want to be adjusted, touch, much less noticed. She does her thing and wishes to be left alone. Myself, though, I was once patted on the butt when in a standing fold asana by an instructor with whom I was very familiar (professionally). She immediately apologized and was truly shocked by her lack of thought. I assured her I simply did not care, and actually made a joke out of it, which today, I'd imagine someone would say I thus "did wrong". (I believe I called her 'Mistress' or something.) But as we are all different, as we all are in varying states of knowing or intimacy, so to speak, with others, instructors, and everyone for that matter, we all must learn to speak up. Saying 'no' is not that difficult. Perhaps at first, but the alternative is to tacitly accept that which you do not want. And yes, it really is that easy, guru, acquaintance, lover, employers, etc. It is your personal right to say NO. And to not say it *is* your fault, at least to some extent (if not wholly).

  171. i don't doubt or blame victims, as a rule. i've been abused, and as a child, as a teen, and felt humiliated upon the realization after the fact how naive i'd been to permit, to not report, to not fight back. and i've done yoga and been very lightly "corrected", but of course nowhere near my private parts. that wouldn't have made any rational sense at any level/would have been bizarrre. however, some of these reports, and especially the photos here, strike me as way beyond the pale of the deepest naivetee, especially among grown adults (ostensibly of yoga-heightened awareness?). c'mon.. lying upon/grinding into an adult, both parties very lightly dressed....? even when i was 10 or 12, THIS i would have figured out. is there a cultish mass hypnotic effect in play here? and the whole group has to buy in to more and more intrusion, bordering on ridiculousness? i think the yoga experience along these lines needs a mental recalibration. in the end i was a little embarassed and ashamed to have even read this article. the style and content started feeling salacious, very 50 shades of gray. i know it is just reporting, maybe needed to be graphic (eh, i dunno...). but it began reading like an offcolor novel. i want to show respect, but this story and the reporting felt quite peculiar to me...like adults ought to be able to figure this one out for themselves without raising a journalistic flag.

  172. Oh, please. That it's a yoga class and you supposedly need "adjustment" doesn't excuse intrusive and unwanted touching. Someone puts his/her hands on you in a way that you do not like you tell them to back off, forcefully if need be. Respect yourself- don't accept what you don't want.

  173. It needs to be pointed out that this NYT not time sensitive article using incendiary language about a well established and venerated and deceased Indian yoga teacher of great standing was PUBLISGHED on the very weekend--and just before--the Indian Supreme court was announcing its very important and sensitive decision on the Avodyha temple/mosque dispute. Poor timing at a minimum.

  174. What about sports coaches?

  175. If the purpose of this article is to invite us to think, here are my thoughts:looking the other way when sexual assault occurs, should be classified a crime (Ohio State and Jim Jordan come to mind). If ones signs up for a class where pictures are all over the internet of the instructor providing "correction" that you believe looks like sexual assault, why for hesven sake would you sign up for that? If you go to a healer for hands on healing, maybe ask questions on what to expect before laying on of hands begins. But in the final analysis, we are mammals. Mammals crave touch. It's bizarre to me that human beings have become so insular they are terrified, or at the very least, offended by touch. Touch does not equal sexual assault. Sorry, I'm not a millennial snowflake whose only acceptable touch comes with a permission slip or a touch screen. I'm a Boomer; hugs are welcome here. sheesh!

  176. @Dennis Licensed K-12 teachers in many states are mandated reporters of any kind of abuse. Even if they don't have first-hand knowledge, but have a reasonable suspicion that abuse is going on, they are required to report. They are held harmless if there is found not to be abuse. I can't help but think that the average person would not be protected if an allegation of abuse were made and found to be untrue or simply not substantiated or corroborated. Yes, we want people who witness a crime to report it, but if they don't, we arrest THEM?

  177. @Dennis And conversely, it’s bizarre to many of us that some humans think it’s a big deal to take 5 seconds to inquire about another person’s feelings or preferences. You want to show someone affection? Start with respecting them. Then work up to hugs.

  178. @Dennis Ok Boomer. Mammals crave consensual touch. Do you have a pet? Ever try to pet a cat or dog who does not want that contact? Responses range from avoidant to outright hostile. This response is also a version of a gender-typical response to female complaints about uninvited physical contact: What’s the big deal. This has nothing to do with millennials or boomers. This is about the evolution of understanding boundaries and gender privilege. You want a hug? Get it from someone who consents. Otherwise, until you get permission, keep your hands off people.

  179. I have never minded an instructor readjusting me to correct my form, but these images are just gross. I have never had a teacher do anything like this, just infrequently move an arm or foot and they usually tell you what to do. If you have a teacher do something like this, time to complain to management and go somewhere else.

  180. There are yoga studios that use tokens. Pink side up - don't touch me. Blue side up - I am okay with physical corrections. There was really no need to write such a long and convoluted article about things that have such simple solutions.

  181. @Alfred Neuman That's right. Because it's all about your solution and none of what is reported or assaults or consent or accountability matter. Scary.

  182. Hasn't "guru" style yoga been associated with sexual misconduct for a long time? This is nothing specific to yoga, of course. The same thing happens in every field that looks to gurus. it's important to point these things out when they happen, but we shouldn't be surprised as if we didn't expect it.

  183. I want to know if female yoga instructors practice these aggressive adjustments and if male instructors practice them on men. If both sexes use these intimately physical adjustments on both sexes, would that point to more legitimate intent? I’ve been to only a few yoga classes and nobody ever touched anybody. Sounds lucky for me that I was never able to afford a prestigious, expensive celebrity instructor.

  184. Touch only with consent. Teachers I have had have made that clear.

  185. It's not the yoga practice that becomes offensive, it's the people, all around us, each day. In every manner, respect is thrown aside, a selfish, self-serving attitude prevails. It happens everywhere, all the time ... it will never cease because we are human.

  186. Like others here mentioned, there has to be an easy way to inform the instructor whether you wish or do not wish to be touched. I believe appropriate, consensual adjustment is necessary or at least a good idea since if you are doing a pose wrong you might even sustain an injury.

  187. my Yogi and his wife taught for decades and NEVER touched s student. they talked you through the proper moves until it was as good as one can do.

  188. Usually an instructor will ask the class at the beginning, in child's pose with eyes closed, to raise their hand if they prefer not to be touched. Any touching at all is already sensuous. "Inappropriate" touching is absurd. If I were female I'd choose women instructors as well as women doctors.

  189. My first yoga teacher taught out of her loft below Canal St in NYC. There were no yoga studios in the neighborhood then. (80's & 90's) She was an incredible teacher who taught all levels at once and always knew what each person needed to move further in the pose. She did very good hands on corrections that were never inappropriate. It was a 2 hour class. I miss her so much. Her name is Carolyn Oberst.

  190. Yoga instructors should first ask Can I touch you?" before making any adjustments. All too often, yoga instructors do not offer corrections either verbally or physically resulting in student injuries due to improper positioning and alignment.

  191. We would like to think that yogis and other spiritual leaders are different from the rest of of but they are not. The same desires and emotions run through all of humanity. Anyone in a position of authority risks taking that position into undesired realms. Yoga assists are a valuable tool to help practitioners advance in their practice. But like anything, the possibility for abuse exists. I also believe that the abusers may have positive reactions in some instances and that just encourages more abuse.

  192. The underlying philosophical, spiteful, learned reasoning of & for Yoga has been debased beyond reason by the coterie of proponents that made it commercial. While the physicality of Yoga is of immense help when it is devoid of the philosophical & spiritual underpinnings it’s true essence and meaning is an empty well being cup. Commercialisation has robbed Yoga of its deep significance. It is to the detriment of all most all practicing it & robbing them of benefiting available from its deep roots in spirituality.

  193. @Rh I agree that yoga has strayed far from it's fundamental roots, becoming not much more than exercise with pretend mindfulness. The final straw for me was yoga competitions. Isn't that the antithesis of what the inner journey is all about? Yoga is now a commercially exploited market not unlike sweat lodges, shamanic practice and Ayahuasca journeys. True practicioners are as scarce as honest politicians. Unfortunately accusations of 'cultural appropriation' arise modern day if these sorts of things are not stripped of their spirituality.

  194. I think these videos should be available from NYT and not via more apps that requires more subscriptions and downloads. I’ve already paid for and downloaded the NYT app, this links and more links just doesn’t make sense to me. It’s not user friendly. I love NYT content, wish it were more seamless.

  195. Just a footnote to this article. While I agree that the "hands on" techniques of some of these instructors is clearly out of bounds, what I have learned as a Pilates student, is how critical form is to both maximizing the effect of a particular movement and more importantly, to prevent injury. I am always amazed at how a slight push or positioning of particular parts of my back, shoulders,etc. dramatically changes what muscles are used and how other muscles that should not be used. I would say, the instructors I have are quite skillful at making these adjustments with their hands, but, Yoga, like Pilates is all about proper form. I should add, that these mass Yoga sessions would not work for me. I do need small classes where the instructor can keep an eye on me--and when needed walk by a push a little here and there.

  196. @Amanda Jones This confirms my experience, I greatly appreciate being physically corrected by the teachers in our Iyengar class. If you think someone crosses your boundaries say so. Yoga teachers are humans not semi gods.

  197. Blurry lines? Any time I have ever taken a Yoga class, the instructor has made it clear that we should let them know if we don't want to be touched or our positions to be corrected. Always at the beginning of class. If that's not the norm, then there is an issue, but it hasn't been in my experience.

  198. It seems to me that this deep sensitivity and fear of being inappropriately touched is interesting in itself. It seems that these women need some assertiveness training classes more than yoga class. It’s possible to learn personally appropriate responses to situations, but impossible to change the world to satisfy every individual person in all situations. What is good for one person may not be good for another. The world is already cold and cruel enough without the need to create heightened sensitivity about every situation. I think this really shows how suffering is part of human nature, if there’s not enough of it, we create it.

  199. As in most religions, "spiritual communities", cults, movements...so many participants are insecure, dependent "followers" feeling in need of leadership and "guidance". A lot of the examples of behaviors described in the article are plain vanilla sexual assault, and nonetheless the sheep keep looking on, let it happen, stay silent - astonishing and sad.

  200. Yawn. Has it been a decade already? Because that's about how often these stories pop up with the hopeful intent of maybe cleaning up this creepy industry. Nothing happens. In fact, the industry continues to swell. Its consumers–people who believe their yoga to be precious and sacrosanct and above reproach and their yoga gurus to be infallible–do not want to hear anything critical. And they definitely do not want to hear that the thing they thought was innocent is not innocent at all, and never has been. This is an industry built on a rotting foundation of exploitation and lies. Bother to do the research. It's all there.

  201. @NG It's not a creepy industry. Most women doing yoga in the US have not been touched inappropriately by a yoga instructor. Most of the weird stuff discussed in this article happened in India years ago.

  202. Why would you include footage of Douglass and Mind Over Madness in this? Neither him nor ISHTA's founders have been involved in any scandals. Pattabhi Jois followers know what they are getting into, or at least they can if they wanted to.

  203. I don’t know why my post was rejected, but here is the short version. This happened to me, in an intense workshop led by a teacher who had an almost guru level following. Those who posted here deriding or blaming the victims have to understand the obedient mindset of committed yoginis. When inappropriate contact happens, it can be confusing, in the moment. You doubt your interpretation, because you have been groomed to accept whatever the teacher does to you. And then when you get away from that (toxic, in my opinion) environment and consider what happened, it is obvious that the touch was intended as a violation. Don’t judge and condemn the victims.

  204. So why did these ladies attend the classes if they felt themselves under assault? Do women not understand that silence is the same as assent to most criminals like this? Look at Trump claiming that "they all want it", meaning that women want sex and want to be assaulted, by people like him. Coming decades after, to make a an issue of this merely causes all relations between men and women to fall into a permanently gray area, where all women need do is make accusations and, automatically-without any evidence, just a surfeit of bitterness, entire classes and groups of women are given the benefit of the doubt, and men are dumped on by bands of women like a pride of lions seeing the prey weaken, cut off from the herd. It makes no difference even when it turns out that a half are either mis characterising or just jumping on a passing bandwagon. More claims like this -where women continue to participate in social rituals and only complain years after,will end by making ALL such accusations -even serious and immediate assault and battery charges, seem trivial and belonging to a cetain group of women who It is the story of the boy who cried: "Wolf!" , repeatedly.

  205. All touch should be consensual. Yoga teachers should also be able to instruct their students with verbal cues, so that touch essentially becomes unnecessary. But this article also speaks to a phenomenon in certain “wellness” communities; that the teacher is some kind of infallible guru or savior. When you’re inappropriately touched by one of these saviors, the doubt creeps in because you think it’s normal even though your body says it’s not. Listen to your body. Wrong is wrong. Speak up. Shout if you must.

  206. Where did the editors have to go to even find a male yoga teacher to reinforce the "angle" of this story--which has nothing to do with yoga, in particular? The real story here is the assiduous scouting-out of every corner of the non-flyover world to identify and expose further outrages visited upon helpess women by nefarious, all-powerful men. In this episode: "The yoga world is infected with lecherous male instructors--discuss." Unless you were to study and practice yoga yourself, you wouldn't know that 90% of US yoga instructors are (drumroll) female. You certainly would not get that from this article, since that would give a flat tire to the male=bad omnibus. Every instructor I ever had (over ten years) asked first, always. Especially the (very rare) male instructors--who also make a general announcement about this--since they recognize that some women may have suffered sexual abuse. Of course, this begs the question of why a woman with "touching-sensitivities/abuse issues" would ever choose a male instructor when there is an overwhelming abundance (and variety) of female instructors? Some NY/LA status thing gone wrong? I first studied yoga in a Philadephia sururb in 1971. The teacher was an Indian man, a Sanskrit scholar at UPenn. He only reluctantly "allowed" women in his class, since in India (then) only upper-caste women were considered eligible to study, and since he (and yoga practice) were still relatively new in this country, he wondered if it was "proper."

  207. I’m so happy I never “got into” yoga. Male friends who do yoga routinely mention the shapely women they see in class as if that’s a draw. When I ask why they don’t focus on spiritual growth in yoga, most laugh and talk about how they are there for a workout and noticing a shapely woman in yoga is no different than in a gym. That, and the fact that every single avid yoga person I know is more stressed out, anxious and Ill at ease than the next make me doubt the spiritual basis of yoga and whether it “works.”

  208. @Micah open your mind. In its most basic sense it improves flexibility and relieves anxiety

  209. @Micah I've noticed that , too! Yoga chicks are always uptight, I said to a co worker once, when one was obsessing about the fat content in our yoghurt. .... However, most of the women in the yoga classes I took, were shapely all right - obese.

  210. That twisting and bending of your body what most people associate with “Yoga” is only a very small part of Ashtang Yoga. Control of mind, body and food complete the trilogy of Ashtang Yoga. If you are a vulnerable kind, you would be taken advantage of everywhere in the world. So, blaming Yoga for this is a bit misplaced.

  211. I find it almost imposable to believe these ladies would allow such touching to go on for long!! Either they are extremely naive, or their mother didn’t teach them about their rights! Both seem highly improbable!